‘Living on the Land’ Stewardship Education Program Expansion
Three 17-week Living on the Land (LOTL) classes and two tours were held fall 2007 and spring 2008 throughout the Treasure Valley of Idaho and southeastern Oregon. Evaluations from the LOTL class showed significant changes in knowledge, understanding and skill in small acreage management as a result of training and materials received during class. The first year of vegetable and melon variety and turf trials were successfully completed and second year trials have begun. The LOTL Instructors Training course successfully trained 6 new instructors as well as Extension educators from Oregon, Idaho and Michigan.
- Increase awareness and availability of LOTL educational programs in the Treasure Valley of Idaho and Eastern Oregon by offering the program at three sites.
Market, conduct, and evaluate an annual LOTL instructor development and training short course to support Idaho LOTL sites and other LOTL western delivery teams.
By 2009, instructors at three sites will train and certify one hundred and thirty-five (135) small-acreage units from 10 or more counties in Idaho and Oregon. Each unit will complete the LOTL course, develop a small acreage plan and implement stewardship practices advanced in the curriculum on their land.
Foster, develop and evaluate twenty-eight (28) or more youth adult-partnerships that address stewardship, life skills, attitudes, awareness and knowledge of the land by the next generation of land owners in the Treasure Valley.
Research, conduct, implement and evaluate on-farm demonstration and testing of market garden varieties, production practices with goats and pastured poultry and using grasses to reduce water use and to manage weeds at eight (8) sites.
Conduct, implement and evaluate six (6) or more public ‘Living on the Land’ Tours using on-farm demonstration and test sites as the basis for public stewardship education by 2009.
Create, pilot, and submit for publication a new module for the LOTL curriculum to address gaps in the existing curriculum on marketing and economics as stewards of small acreages.
A two day LOTL Instructor training seminar was held on Dec 5-6, 2007 in Caldwell, Idaho. Information covered during the training included information on adding fun to presentations, information on learning styles of adults, team teaching techniques and how to become a more effective teacher. The training also included information on the LOTL curriculum and the revision coordinated by Sue Donaldson at University of Nevada, Idaho specific additions to that curriculum, marketing the program and a tour of LOTL alumni sites.
Three Idaho LOTL alumni attended the training and subsequently helped teach the 2008 LOTL classes. Two extension educators from south-central Idaho and two educators from Minnesota attended the training to learn how to start a LOTL program in their area. Other attendees included three representatives of local business and industry and three new extension educators from the area (two from University of Idaho and one from Oregon State University) all of which helped teach the 2008 LOTL classes. Coordinators of the Idaho LOTL program have continued communication with the Minnesota team as they prepared for their class. They offered a 6 week program in March and April with great success!
What’s left to do: Several Idaho LOTL instructors will be assisting with two “Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small acreages Professional Development Workshops” this year in Bozeman, Montana, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. These trainings will assist interested parties in learning the curriculum and getting a program started in their area. Sue Donaldson and Stephanie Etter will also be presenting about the LOTL curriculum at the Galaxy III Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, in September. Another Instructor Training is be planned for December 2008.
The LOTL class was offered in three different locations this year; Caldwell, Emmett and Fruitland. Each class followed the same schedule but was on a different day of the week so that class participants could attend a different class if they had a conflict with their regular class. The Caldwell and Fruitland classes were evening classes, Emmett was an afternoon class. This was the first time we offered a daytime class and felt that it was successful. Although a day time slot doesn’t work for everyone, retirees and mothers with children in school preferred this time.
Between the three locations 59 people (37 units) participated in the 2008 LOTL course. These people managed 921 acres in seven southwestern Idaho counties and one eastern Oregon county. Our objective was to reach 135 units during the granting period and so far we have reached 71 units (34 units-2007, 37 units-2008). We again offered a mini-series the last 4 weeks of class which attracted 14 additional people from five counties. Four youth completed the class with three other youth attending one or more classes with a family member. We worked with the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to list the class for university credit. Two participants took the class for undergraduate credit and one participant took the class for teacher continuing education credit.
What’s left to do: On-site visits by instructors to each class member’s acreage will begin this summer. Plans are already underway for 2009 classes. We will aim for three classes again next year although exact locations are unknown at this time.
Two tours have been held since the last report was submitted, one in October 2007 and another in June 2008. The tour in October covered poultry production, fruit production and marketing and included a unique acreage with diversified fruit and vegetable production integrated with wildlife habitat conservation. Fifteen people attended that tour. On a scale of 1 (low value) to 10 (high value), participants rated the tour a 9.3. Below are several comments from the evaluation:
“Exceeded (my expectations) in every way–wanted to learn about poultry and in the end the last 2 stops were fascinating–learned a lot and made new contacts.”
“(The highlight of the tour was) seeing someone who worked with the land not against it.”
“(We will go home and) carefully assess our property and look for plans and goals that the property is best suited for and won’t have to be forced or require excessive work or management.”
The tour in late June covered an innovative poultry and garden operation, on-farm marketing of produce and grape and fruit tree management. Forty people attended that tour.
What’s left to do: Evaluations from the June 2008 tour will be compiled and used to plan another tour for fall of 2008.
During the summer of 2007 variety trials were conducted with cucumbers, carrots, spinach, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes and peppers. Ten to twenty varieties of each vegetable or melon were tested at sites across southern Idaho. Taste tests were conducted when feasible. Participants in taste tests included University of Idaho employees, volunteers, local FFA chapters and local middle school students. Other production data measured included yield, first harvest date, appearance of vegetable/melons and quality of the plant. A report from the tomato trials at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center is available at http://www.extension.uidaho.edu/idahogardens/Seasonal/Seasonal.htm (see Appendix 1). Data from the variety trials at the Parma Research & Extension Center have not been published yet, but overall picks based on production and taste results are shown in Table 1.
What’s left to do: Varieties of melons, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, summer squash, pumpkins and winter squash are being tested in 2008. Production data will be collected at sites throughout southern Idaho.
Four test sites were seeded in spring 2007. In 2007 one of the sites was eliminated by the partner due to weed growth, and pedestrian traffic and lack of watering. By June 2008 two more of the three remaining sites had failed. Both sites were reseeded in fall 2007, and had promise for natural establishment because of good precipitation, but were not successful.
The Oregon Trail roadside rest stop at Interstate Freeway 85 on the eastern edge of Oregon is a well maintained rest area. This site comprises three different areas for the grass demonstration trials that are easily accessible for viewing by the public. As of June 2008 each area had nine varieties of grass seed emerge successfully. Kentucky bluegrass, the most popular species for home lawns was included for comparison. A positive outcome with this set of plots is that weeds were removed, and Siberian wheatgrass was successfully established, despite the competition from other weeds and poor site conditions.
The remaining test plots at the rest stop, where water and site conditions have been more favorable, are providing important examples of alternative or supplemental turf species for small acreage landowners as landscape and pasture grasses. Evaluations have been conducted by UI Living on the Land students, and UI Master Gardeners, with plans to continue evaluations over the course of the next two growing seasons and compare establishment and aesthetics of each species as water is reduced. The trials were also featured in a cover study in the Argus Observer, a local newspaper, on May 22, 2008.
Tony McCammon, University of Idaho Extension Educator-Horticulture, has also created an informational poster for display at one of the rest stop kiosks, and a trifold brochure to distribute to interested patrons. Information from the trial was presented and brochures distributed to over 25 individuals at a Master Gardener Conference in June (see Appendix 2)
Poultry were featured on the last two LOTL tours. Both sites focused on egg production; one focused on profitability and the other was primarily for personal/family use. The tour in October 2007 featured a LOTL alumnus who developed a free-range chicken and turkey operation. She sells the chicken eggs at her home, through a local community supported agriculture (CSA) garden and at a small local grocery store. Her turkeys are raised until Thanksgiving, are processed at a state-inspected poultry slaughter facility in New Plymouth, Idaho and sold to private individuals. The tour in June 2008 featured a LOTL alumnus with a unique “chicken garden.” Her chicken coop is surrounded on two sides by her garden, which is planted in stages and fenced and gated into 4 smaller areas. Her coop has two “doggie doors” that direct the chickens into a section of the garden when production is finished. She produces eggs for her family and sells the rest to co-workers.
We were unable to attend the Langston Goat Field Day this year due to conflicts in schedules. Extension in the state of Idaho was undergoing a CSREES review at the time the field day was being held.
What’s left to do: Continue to demonstrate that poultry and goats are viable enterprises for small acreage landowners. Cooperators and producers will attend the Langston University Goat Field Day in spring of 2009.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Statistical evaluation of the 2007 LOTL class showed significant changes in knowledge, understanding and preparedness of class participants to manage their land after taking the course (Table 2).
Comments from the class evaluation on what they took away from the class are shown below.
“Talking to other class members made me feel less overwhelmed and ‘stupid.’ I realized that I wasn’t alone and that there are resources other there to help.”
“I am now better prepared to find answers and solutions given resources provided during the course.”
“I knew going into this class that we had a lot to learn even though I had grown up on a farm…. But I was amazed at what I didn’t know.”
“The class helped point me in the right direction as far as… management and understanding the needs of my acreage.”
One of the initial objectives of the grant was to “create, pilot, and submit for publication a new module for the LOTL curriculum to address gaps in the existing curriculum on marketing and economics as stewards of small acreages.” Lessons included in this module were created in 2007 and titled “Marketing Your Farm Produce-Ways & Means to a Sustainable Enterprise,” “A Whole-Farm Approach-Applying the Principles of Sustainable Farming” and “Farmers Market/Organic Approaches.” This module and an additional lesson “Livestock Feeds & Feeding” were peer reviewed and are included in the LOTL curriculum revision being released this summer.
136 Watertower Lan
Meridian, ID 83642
Office Phone: 2088848616